Today’s post was originally published on LARB Channel Avidly.
By Lisa Beskin
A month or so after my mother’s death in 2001, I found myself in an awkward situation involving David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. I had just seen it in the theater, loved it, and desperately wanted to talk about it with a certain friend. But I hadn’t yet told him my terrible news, and because my mother had committed suicide, it couldn’t be told quickly or summarily. Every time I told someone what had happened, I flinched for both of us. It just wouldn’t do to call him up and chip, “There’s been a tragedy, but guess what? I went to the movies and saw Mulholland Dr.!” This little dilemma was the love-child of survivor guilt and Miss Manners. Eventually I settled on emailing my friend about my mom and telephoning a couple of days later. I was learning that this new, strange life had room for grief and pleasure both—and ways to live with that excruciating truth. Continue reading
This piece was originally published today, July 8, by LARB Channel Avidly.
By Alizah Salario
At The Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, the dead fill every nook and cranny. “Art of Mourning,” the current exhibit, features celluloid medallions and Victorian-era memorial photographs depicting the waxy, masklike faces of the dead. In “Sleeping Beauty” photos, deceased little girls and boys are cradled in open caskets or propped up in rocking chairs, as still and flawless as porcelain dolls. There are intricate wreaths woven from the hair of the dead in commemoration. What if modern mourners were to knot friendship bracelets from dear dead Bubbe’s blue-grey locks, or use a selfie with her on her deathbed as their Smartphone wallpaper? Just imagine. At best they’d be stigmatized as morbid; more likely perverse or pathological. Death, as we know it today, often happens behind closed doors, hooked to machines, in solitude and silence. Even if there was time to grab a lock of hair or snap a photo, the public display of keepsakes of the dead are today usually considered distasteful or maudlin. Continue reading